Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Swoon and Wilt Take On a Whole New Meaning

I guess it depends upon how badly you want to flog the lack of actual news.  But it occasionally becomes comic and one can only wonder who edits AP.


GaspumpAn Associated Press article about today’s action in the stock markets is titled “Stocks Make Some Gains as Oil Prices Swoon.” A few paragraphs down they opt on “oil prices wilted from last week's record highs, falling more than $1 a barrel in mid-afternoon trading.”


That’s pretty strong stuff for a measly single-buck drop on $66.  When was the last time you described a six-tenths of one percent movement in the price of a commodity as a swoon or a wilt?


But it’s interesting, this oil-price thing, as a barometer of what might have been under slightly altered circumstances.  I remember $2 a barrel oil, but then I remember 22 cent Lucky Strikes as well.  If you live long enough almost anything in memory has changed significantly, most of them for the better.  Here in Europe where I live, it’s nothing new to plunk fifty bucks into the tank of my modest little Subaru.  That’s been the way it is over here since long before Iraq and everyone gets along just fine.  And although I hear some bitching, America seems to have borne up under the strain of $2.60 gasoline that we pay $4.50 to get.


That extra two bucks we pay (and have paid) over here is all taxes of course. 


But had we significantly taxed gasoline in the states, we’d be way closer to balancing our unbalanced balance of payments (intriguing sentence structure there), much less of a debtor nation and perhaps much more importantly, we’d have a differing view of what’s important and what’s not.  Such as four-bedroom homes with three-car garages for couples.  Such as pickup trucks and SUV’s for soccer-moms.  Such as other ways to power our cars and electric generating plants, our industry and homes.


It’s coming to that, you know. That's the inexorable direction of the world.  And, if you live long enough, you’ll tell your grandkids you are the last of the relics left over from the industrial dark-ages.  That’s what history is going to call the two hundred year period from about 1850 to 2050, the Industrial Dark Ages.  Those will be known as unenlightened times when ignorant humans took most of the buried fossil fuels of this earth and threw them into the atmosphere, a time akin in ignorance to the days of the Inquisition. Your grandkids will hardly believe anyone could have been so stupid, with a veritable cornucopia of available clean sources of energy at their disposal. 


But they’ll love you anyway, because you’re their granddad.
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A bunch more environmental issues muddying the waters on my personal web site.